Kodak out of bankruptcy with technology focus

PARED DOWN::The new Kodak has only about 8,500 workers, down from 120,000 in 1973, and plans to provide packaging, printing and graphics to a business market


Thu, Sep 05, 2013 - Page 15

A slimmed-down Kodak announced on Tuesday that it had emerged from bankruptcy protection and would specialize in technology focused on imaging for businesses.

During a 20-month bankruptcy reorganization, Kodak divested many of its most iconic businesses, including its retail film products, its photography paper products and about 105,000 kiosks worldwide.

The company’s re-emergence opens a new chapter for an enterprise that helped launch photography for the masses in the 20th century, but stumbled amid the digital revolution. The newly remade Kodak now has about 8,500 employees, a Kodak spokesman said, down from 120,000 workers in 1973. The new company has manufacturing and technology centers in 10 countries and sells products in more than 130 countries.

“We have emerged as a technology company serving imaging for business markets — including packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services,” Kodak chief executive Antonio Perez said in a statement.

“We are setting a trajectory for profitable growth,” Perez said. “We have the right technology at the right time as printing markets increasingly transition to digital.”

The company has net cash of US$695 million above its net debt, a Kodak spokesman said.

Kodak divested many of its operations during the bankruptcy. In the biggest deal, Kodak sold its personalized and document imaging business to the UK Kodak Pension Plan (KPP), its largest creditor.

Under the agreement, announced in April, the pension plan agreed to pay Kodak US$650 million in exchange for the settlement of US$2.8 billion in claims against Kodak. KPP is housing the products under a new company known as Kodak Alaris.

The operation will have about 4,700 employees in about 30 countries, a KPP news release said.

Kodak also divested its digital imaging patents for US$525 million

A New York bankruptcy court had approved Kodak’s reorganization plan on August 20, but the company said at the time it still had some final steps before exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Kodak said on Tuesday it had completed the spinoff of assets to the UK Kodak Pension Plan, closed an agreement for US$695 million in financing and obtained US$406 million in new equity investments from unsecured creditors.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors in January last year, after 131 years in business, as the company fell behind rivals in digital photography.